NYGH member Thomas Victor won the 2022 Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival Special Awards of Best of Show, Best Woven and Best Skein. ✨ Congratulations Thomas! ✨ And it's no wonder because he is meticulous about his spinning and weaving, working by hand from fleece to finished item, especially with camelid fibers such as baby camel, alpaca, and the North American Paco-Vicuna. In this month's Membership Spotlight Series interview, we not only learn about Thomas' background and work but also excellent information about camelid fibers.
Weavers who have been thinking about learning to spin will find this interview to be particularly fascinating. Thomas notes, "At this point there is no mill in the US that is able to spin the fine thread I want, in particular in the small batches available of hard to find fibers with extreme fineness and quality." On his website, he provides a timelapse video showing his entire process of carefully removing vegetal matter and coarse hairs from the fiber before handspinning and then handweaving it into elegant scarves.
Thomas also works with millspun yarns, especially those made from silk, cashmere, and European wet-spun superfine flax/linen. The photo below shows his silk/cashmere rainbow scarf with gradient colorchanges:
Plus, spinning and weaving are just a portion of Thomas' skills. He was taught the basics of wood work, knitting, crochet, sewing, and spinning before starting school. Natural dyeing and wet felting were soon added to his skillset, as well as some metal work. From his early teens to mid-20s he made all his clothes. Eventually came his serious exploration of spinning, and eventually weaving, plus knit design, pattern making, the sorting-grading-classing of animal fibers, and welding!
As Thomas says, "Keep exploring. Dare to make something that is totally awful, dare to fall flat on your face... Start thinking using the knowledge you have, or reach out and figure out how you can turn it around, because you realize you have way more knowledge and tools than you think."
Thomas is new to our guild, and he provides this insight about going to his first in-person NYGH meeting: "I felt that there's a community. And also realizing the width and depth of knowledge - I didn't realize it would be as tangible... Having people that can relate to what you're doing, I think that's part of it - learning and sharing." This is what we endeavor to provide as a guild and whether you attend in-person or virtually, we hope that all of our members feel the same. Here is Membership Chair Katy Clements' interview with Thomas: